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NKY Chamber’s Leadership Northern Kentucky class gives grants to three area nonprofits as class project

Despite an unprecedented time in history, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Northern Kentucky (Leadership NKY) Class of 2020’s determination did not let a global pandemic deter them from completing the task before them. Now, three Northern Kentucky charitable organizations are set to reap the benefits of their work as a result.

The Lincoln Grant Scholar House (part of the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission), the Life Learning Center and Samaritan Car Care Clinic have been chosen to receive grants from Leadership NKY Class of 2020’s Giving Challenge.

The grants stem from a partnership between Leadership NKY and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) announced last August in which GCF gave the class $25,000 to award to NKY nonprofits by the end of their program year. The additional $15,360 was raised through personal contributions of members of the class, as well as several of their respective companies, including: The Duke Energy Foundation, PCA Architecture, Business Benefits, The At Home Chef, The Décor Group of NKY and Ft. Thomas Matters.

Lincoln Grant Scholar House and Life Learning Center will each receive $15,120 and Samaritan Car Care Clinic will receive $10,120.

Lincoln Grant Scholar House has been awarded the grant to support its residents’ housing and transportation needs; Life Learning Center’s grant will provide housing assistance to 175 employed clients to help them sustain the cost of sober residency until receiving their first paycheck from their respective employers. Samaritan Car Care Clinic’s grant will be used to cover the costs of critical repairs for vehicles owned by working individuals living on limited incomes.

Rising to the challenge

Using the community as a classroom, the Leadership NKY program helps participants gain an understanding of the region’s strengths and opportunities, as well as the skills necessary to motivate and engage others to collaboratively address them. Once selected, participants undergo a substantive education by industry leaders across a diverse range of topics, including economic development, education, government and human services. Unlike their predecessors, however, the 50 members of the Leadership NKY Class of 2020 faced an unheard-of challenge with this year’s class project: How to complete the process in the wake of a global pandemic.

Mark Collier

Coming together in December to discuss how to focus their charitable giving, the class sent out a Request for Proposals in early January. This was followed by them individually scoring each nonprofit’s application, with March 23 as the planned date for the first of two class-wide meetings to make final decisions. Once the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic start shutting things down the week of March 16, however, the class was unable to meet in person. Laura Menge, GCF Senior Philanthropic Advisor and Leadership NKY Class of 2020 Chair says it was at that point the class self-mobilized, self-organized into groups, and, through virtual meetings, accelerated their efforts to get the grant dollars into the community that greatly needed them.

Given how one of the goals of the initiative is to instill a full appreciation for the process of philanthropic work, Menge believes this year’s Leadership NKY class rose to the challenge in phenomenal fashion.

“How fantastic it is to see the members of this class pull together and demonstrate what they’ve learned about the region through Leadership NKY by making three community investments that are meaningful to them. Especially during a time of extreme crisis and challenge caused by the pandemic, this grantmaking to organizations serving individuals in need feels particularly important,” said Menge. “This class leaves a legacy of generosity, and my hope is that the class members will continue to be supportive of our NKY nonprofits across the rest of their careers and beyond.”

Leadership NKY Class of 2020 President Mark Collier, who says that philanthropy is “not a passive sport,” says the end result was worth the struggle.

“Leadership NKY became a showcase that demonstrated the common needs that are needed to move Northern Kentucky forward. Our class learned what it was to be intentional with your giving and how to maximize our talents and treasures for the betterment of others,” said Collier.

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